One of 2007’s most anticipated horror films
This Week in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at one of 2007’s most anticipated horror films – this thing is getting more buzz than a fat hive on a Summers day, I tell ya – “Sin-Jin Smyth”.
For those not in the know, the film is already touted as being the new “Blair Witch Project” – not only because of how much of a following it already has on the internet pre-release, but because of how much has ostensibly been accomplished with so little.
A film that cost only a couple of million, and doesn’t feature anyone in its cast that demands their hair be washed with Evian water, is generating about as much hype and excitement as that plastic shark movie that that Jewish kid received in the mid 1970s. It is really, quite astonishing – and refreshing to see.
Speaking of refreshing. Instead of featuring a line-up of the CW’s hottest young stars or a predominantly bankable lead, “Smyth” stars a who’s who of the Reagan-era: Richard Tyson (“Kindergarten Cop”), Rowdy Roddy Piper (“They Live”) and classic horror stars like Eileen Dietz (“Helter Skelter”) and Charles Cyphers (“Halloween II”). It’s biggest star though, might be insanely popular rocker Jonathan Davis, of ‘Korn’ fame, who revels in his role as the film’s villain, The Devil, no less.
But to the movie – and granted, the film was still in the works at this stage, so there was some colour correcting to be done, a few more scenes to be inserted, and the sound was rough – that I’m here to either cheer or smear.
Written and directed by newcomer Ethan Dettenmaier, “Smyth” fixes on two federal agents (Tyson and Piper welcomingly channelling Gibson and Glover from “Lethal Weapon”) who head to the small town of Shin Bone, Kansas – just moments before a tornado warning sounds – to transport a prisoner named Sin-Jin Smyth (Davis). They know nothing about the chap, but pretty soon discover that he’s definitely not of their time and place.
What follows is a fast-paced horror/actioner that pits the two men against a dangerous fugitive – the devil seems to find it rather easy to get free, not surprisingly- and surprisingly, some gung-ho commando types who’re just asking for trouble (a shootout at a farm house might just be the films best moment).
I love a good horror film. I especially love classic horror – movies like Carpenter did in the early 80s. “Halloween” is a favourite. It’s a perfect example of a film that wouldn’t have offered much on paper, and didn’t have a lot going in (Jamie Lee Curtis was a nobody, there wasn’t much money to play around with), but turned out to be richer than Crème Caramel. Watching “Sin-Jin Smyth”, I was immediately reminded of Carpenter, but more notably, that first “Halloween” film. Whether it was intentional or not, the filmmakers and production designers here have carved a sweet-ass looking film that’s so fantastically atmospheric – the hotly lit moon, the goosebump provoking whistle of the wind, the mist that arises from the fog, the old-style look to the film – that I can’t help Carpenter would be in heaven. The look of the film is definitely its biggest surprise.
Acting-wise, Davis steals the show. Granted, he hardly says a thing – but he does so much with just a glance and his body movement, that you can’t help but be intimidated by his villain. He truly is, a fairly frightening guy. What the filmmakers have done – and what isn’t done much anymore – is put the guy in the shadows for most of the movie, only revealing him later on, and it works all the more better. When you see the guy, you’re truly taken back. Also liked the two lead guys in the movie – Tyson more so than Piper, but it might just be personal taste I think – and also Camden Toy (“Buffy”) and Kevin Gage (“Heat”) who have a couple of memorable moments – especially the former, who opens the film.
Though there’s nothing in here that the Academy are going to be taking note of, the script is rather imaginative too. I don’t believe this is a story that has been done before, and if only for that reason, it scores points right off the bat.
My favourite part of the whole thing though, might be the score. It is terrific. Don’t at all be surprised if it ends up being a go-to temp score for films of the future – it’s very effective.
If you like your horror films loud, fun, fast and a tad on the cheesy side – just like they were in the 1980s – then this is one to definitely keep an eye out for next year. Can’t help but think Quentin Tarantino is going to be a big fan of it.
Look forward to seeing the finished cut.
SIN-JIN SMYTH is released in 2007